Archive for rumors
Google has been up to some interesting changes in its hardware division. While its decision to sell off the Motorola smartphone segment to Lenovo tops the list, there also are a few rumors that are worth paying attention to. First is the rumor that Google is contemplating killing off the Nexus brand as a whole, to be replaced by Google Play Edition devices.
However, while that isn’t expected (if at all it happens) before 2015, there are also some who believe Google might launch an 8 inch Nexus branded tablet. That idea stems from a recent revelation by Taiwan based upstream supply chain makers who claim Google is likely to launch the 8 inch Nexus by late April. Also, as reported in Digitimes, there will be 2 million devices to start off with.
While that is yet to be confirmed officially, what can’t be denied is that it makes a lot of sense to have an 8 inch in your tablet portfolio. The 7 inch tablet segment has come under increased competition from the smartphone segment that has been steadily growing in size, so much that we even have a 6.4 inch device in the form of the Sony Xperia Z Ultra that offers calling capabilities; HP has 6 and 7 inch Voice Tablets that allow for voice calling, too. This has made manufacturers of 7 inch tablets to take refuge in 8 inch sized devices. This may have also led to a less than stellar run at the market for the Nexus 7 2013, so the Nexus 8 is believed to be a safe bet in such a scenario.
Samsung is reported to have initiated mass production of 8 and 10.5 inch AMOLED displays which have led analysts to believe the South Korean company might be prepping AMOLED display based tablet devices for a launch sometime in the near future. Further, with an event as big as the MWC, it would perhaps be safe to conclude we might be treated with working samples of the same during the event in February.
Samsung can be associated with AMOLED displays for long though that applies to smartphone devices only. Samsung also had a Galaxy Tab version, one with a 7.7 inch AMOLED display that did enthrall users with its brilliant display though unfortunately, it was among the Galaxy Tab versions that got banned as a fallout of the infamous court battle with Apple. However, there were no precedents ever since which was largely due to several technical difficulties in producing bigger AMOLED displays in sizeable numbers in a cost effective manner.
However, that seems to have been taken care of effectively now that rumors of 8 and 10 inch sized tablets with AMOLED displays have begun to take center stage as we approach the MWC. The prestigious event unfolds in Spain from 24 – 27 February.
The next tablet segment that has caught on the fancy of tablet makers is obviously those that offer 12+ inch of screen real estate. These are aimed at the enterprise users among others and Apple has been rumored for quite some time now to be fielding a contender in this emerging segment; more so after Samsung has already made the initial move here with the launch of the ‘Pro’ versions of its Galaxy Tab models.
However, as per a Digitimes report, the iPad Pro that will offer a 12.9 inch display is not expected to be ready for a market induction before Q3, 2014. Surely that would be quite late if Apple is indeed in a hurry to match Samsung’s move to launch a big screen tablet though the above timeline tallies well with the usual schedule during which Apple refreshes its product line up, which is during fall of every year. The complete lack of any parts leak or other evidence from parts manufacturers further bolsters our assumption of the intended launch period of the iPad Pro during Q3 this year. Research analysts DisplaySearch though is claiming that the 12.9-inch iPad Pro will come with a Retina display having a resolution of 2732 x 2048 pixels, which translates to a pixel density of 265 ppi.
Meanwhile, there have also been reports of Apple considering a hybrid approach for the iPad Pro, one that will come with a detachable keypad unit. The keypad might even come with a separate battery unit to keep the huge display going for respectable amount of run times that successive generations of iPad has always been known for. Meanwhile, Digitimes is also claiming that Apple is into developing new iPad models in the 7.9 and 9.7 inch dimensions which will replace the current lineup.
However, while this can’t be ruled out, it’s the iPad pro models that no doubt will be evoking greater excitement. Let’s see how things pan out in the next couple of months.
Samsung has been experimenting with curved displays for quite some time, although all of its efforts have culminated in just one product so far, the Galaxy Round, which is bent longitudinally along the central spine. That is going to change soon though, what with rumors (courtesy of MovePlayers) claiming Samsung is prepping a tablet version of it as well. Likely to be named Galaxy Tab Round, the tablet will incorporate the same curved build except that it will be felt across 7 or 8 inches of curved display.
As for the benefits of having a curved display on smartphones and tablet devices, while many debate such a design, one obvious benefit of it is that the display has lesser chances of getting damaged since it is never exposed in its entirety, even when placed face down. The Galaxy Round does not exhibit the same levels of flexibility as the LG G Flex, which actually stretches and bends. However, a curved tablet will take up more space when needed to be stored in a bag than its conventional flat screen counterpart. Interestingly, curved 4K 3D TVs have been a major draw at CES 2014.
Other details such as expected specifications, price, or a probable launch schedule are not yet available.
In a nod to the understanding that consumers who read on mobile devices are probably on a time budget, the newly launched full-length issues of Vanity Fair have a new offer: reading times. Originally initiated by Liberty magazine in the 1920s, the reading time feature sorts articles for the reader by how long the article should take, which is perfect for the morning commute or for catching up on an article while waiting at a meeting or appointment.
The new feature is only one part of what’s in store for Vanity Fair readers who utilize the new iPhone version of the magazine, created with Adobe’s Digital Publishing Suite. In addition to the reading times listed in the table of contents–categorized as Short, Medium, Long, and Everything Else–the new version is optimized from the publisher’s print schematics specifically for the iPhone screen.
As this is the second title from Conde Nast to be optimized for iPhone (The New Yorker launched first), additional new features were incorporated by the publisher’s design team. Those features include “videos, photo slide shows, interactive infographics, and archival articles; sharing capability via Twitter, Facebook, and e-mail; links to Web content on Vanityfair.com; and navigation tools, including the ‘scrubber.’”
Individual issues can be purchased through the free app for $4.99, and a one-year subscription is $19.99. Current subscribers to the magazine through either print or iPad will receive the iPhone version at no extra charge.
The Reading Rainbow television show was broadcast for almost two decades and it taught young children the value of reading. When the show was cancelled a few years ago, Levar Burton and producer Mark Wolfe sat down and decided what to do next. 18 months later they debuted the Reading Rainbow iOS app and secured partnerships with Natgeo and a number of other media properties. Today, the Amazon App Store Twitter account posted a picture of Levar visiting Amazon headquarters. This leads me to believe that for the first time the Reading Rainbow will launch an Android App designed for the Kindle Fire.
The Reading Rainbow app features a ton of original content and appeals mainly to kids. There are some customizable features such as your “Backpack” that contains all of the books you are currently reading. Books are attained when you visit different “Islands” that are themed. Each island has original video content that is hosted by Levar and is made specifically for the iPad app. “We ran the show for over two decades and had lots of content in the library. We made a decision to film 100% original content exclusively for the app and will continue to develop more in the coming months,” Levar told Good e-Reader in an exclusive interview.
The Kindle line of tablets is drawing a ton of public attention with Kindle Freetime and their various parental controls. Parents can establish how long each day they can read, play games, watch video and tweak their limits on the fly. Last week, Amazon unveiled Amazon Coins, which acts as their virtual currency to buy in-app content and also buy new apps. Likely, the Reading Rainbow will have Coins integrated into the app, to buy access to new islands.
— Amazon Appstore (@amazonappstore) May 21, 2013
There has been a massive leak of internal documents today from Barnes and Noble that claim Microsoft has made a one billion dollar offer to buy the entire Nook brand. This includes all the ebooks, tablets, and e-readers that the company currently offers.
Barnes and Noble has sold over 10 million Nook devices since first launching in 2009. Over 7 million people are actively using the eBook Store, downloading apps, or purchasing television and movies. It is no secret that Barnes and Noble is losing money with losses of $262 million for the fiscal 2012 year. B&N is also projected to lose an additional $360 million in 2013, so things look dire.
The mounting losses have spurned the vultures to encircle the embattled brand, with Pearson and Microsoft buying equity stakes in the Nook Media venture. This investment basically spun the digital division away from the brick and mortar stores. Microsoft kicked in $300 million at the time and gave B&N an advance of $190 million to make Nook branded apps for the Windows 8 OS.
Some of the documents also point to Barnes and Noble suspending all Android tablets in 2014 and instead licensing out its content platform to eligible buyers. This would be basically be a white label solution for conglomerates like HTC, Samsung, Acer, and others. The intention is for them to operate their own ebook stores that would tap into the Nook ecosystem to facilitate content delivery. Going this route would cut down on the hardware losses, which due to competition from Amazon, Kobo, Samsung, and Google makes sense. Its very hard for companies in today’s climate to make ANY money from hardware and instead have to rely on digital sales.
Microsoft owning a large e-reader, tablet, and ebook store could really help grow its Windows 8 brand. It would stimulate sales for its line of smartphones and tablets using the OS. It could integrate the entire Nook ecosystem to be bundled into the next build of Windows RT and Windows 8.
Sony is developing a followup to the PRS-T2 e-Reader and it is poised to be submitted to the FCC within the next month. The company normally announces new devices in July and releases them in October. The big rumor right now is the deviation from the standard release cycle and getting a new product to market really soon. Sony normally discounts the current generation before it releases the new model.
The Sony PRS-T2 e-Reader is being discounted in the UK, with lighted case and AC charger for 139 euros. It is also being sold with a $20 discount at Best Buy and Future Shop in Canada. It is heavily discounted basically at most stores in the US, Canada, and UK.
Sony has recently revised its online ebook store and opened up a new book of the month club. It has ditched Google Books as an official partner and is doing great business with Overdrive. Now that Google Reader is being discontinued, the Evernote integration is a really big selling point. A new generation Sony e-Readers is due to be announced soon and it is rumored to use the same type of frontlight technology that the Kindle Paperwhite and Kobo Glo use.
We already know Samsung is reported to launch the Galaxy Tab 3 at the IFA event in September, though new input from SamMobile further whets our appetite with reports of there being a high end tablet in the making as well. The new tablet, dubbed Galaxy Tab 3 Plus, is likely to sport a 10.1 inch display, though it could even be as big as 11.6 inches. However, the screen dimension apart, the real treat could the the display, as unconfirmed but reliable sources point out the new tablet could feature a High Definition Super AMOLED display. The same sources also state the tablet will be built around the 5th generation octa core Exynos chip, which is likely to power it with enough horsepower to be pitted against the likes of the Apple iPad. The latter is also slated to launch its 5th gen iPad during June or thereabouts.
The best tablet Samsung now offers in the 10 inch category is the Nexus 10, which blows away the competition with its performance and range topping display. However, only the the Galaxy Tab 7.7 comes with an AMOLED display, which has already impressed with its deep black and colors that are rich and vivid.
Watch this space for more updates as it becomes available.
Rumor has it that Samsung is keen to offload its Liquavista acquisition to Amazon for an amount that is not likely to exceed $100 million. The move comes in the wake of the South Korean manufacturer shifting its focus increasingly towards tablet computers and smartphones, while dedicated ebook reading devices aren’t as lucrative. Samsung had acquired the Netherlands based digital publishing company that specializes in electrowetting display technology in early 2011, though we have yet to see any product based on it entering large scale production.
“We are currently reviewing many plans, including the sale, but nothing has been confirmed yet,” Chenny Kim, a spokeswoman for Samsung.
Interestingly, while ebook readers represent a declining trend, basic LCD based displays continue to be in vogue while others seem to be shifting towards oblivion. A clear advantage with the Liquavista display is that it allows for good readibility even in direct sunlight while also consuming the least amount of energy in the business. However, that does not seem to be enough to incite excitement among both manufacturers and consumers. What remains to be seen if Amazon will bite the bait given less of consumer acceptance of ebook reading devices, while it is pushing for greater sales of its Kindle Fire tablet range.
Barnes and Noble has reported losses in its Nook Media division, which comprises of e-readers and ebooks. The company is going to be announcing its 3rd quarter financials within the next few days, and suffice it to say the company is not going to meet the projected revenue of three billion. A person close to Barnes and Noble has said the company might be gravitating away from hardware sales and instead license out its technology to other companies.
“They are not completely getting out of the hardware business, but they are going to lean a lot more on the comprehensive digital catalog of content,” said this person, who asked not to be identified discussing corporate strategy.
It seems that Barnes and Noble will begin licensing out the Nook Media platform to Samsung and Microsoft to give them a competitive advantage. Pearson and Microsoft were both early investors in Barnes and Noble’s digital strategy. The shift from Nook e-readers and ebooks from being a singular part of Barnes and Nobles bookstore chain and spinning off into its autonomous entity was a strong precursor to licensing its ecosystem to other companies.
Barnes and Noble has seen dwindling interest in its line of hardware. The Nook HD and HD+ were very solid pieces of hardware, but saw diminished market share due to the iPad, Kindle Fire, and Samsung tablets. Why is Nook no longer catching on with the public? One of the big reasons is international customers and support. Barnes and Noble does not let people living outside the UK and USA to buy its products or access its online bookstore. Both of these countries have tons of variety with hardware and most end up going with an Apple product or a Kindle. Competing with hardware does not make fiscal sense and the margins are too low to see any sort of growth.
Tablets right now are starting to mirror the smartphone industry in the last 12 months. You basically have Samsung and Apple controlling 75% of the entire market and the similar thing is occurring with Apple, Amazon, and Samsung. This leaves Barnes and Noble as the odd man out.
Update: Len Riggio, the CEO of B&N has said that he has filed SEC Paperwork to buy all of Barnes and Nobles 689 retail stores and also BN.com. It looks like something major is going to happen with the retail chain and the digital division.
Update 2: Mary Ellen Keating reached out to us to say “To be clear, we have no plans to discontinue our award-winning line of NOOK products.”
Taiwan based research firm TrendForce has stated Apple might be readying its fifth generation iPad for a launch in Q3 2013. Also, the new iPad 5 will come with several new features which will mark its first complete overhaul since it was launched almost three years ago.
These include a thin bezel design that Apple introduced in the iPad Mini along with the incorporation of the “thin GF2 touch module of the same level as iPad Mini.” This, it is believed, will lead to an iPad that will be thinner, lighter, and more compact than the current gen versions. Another aspect that is expected to inject a fresh dose of excitement around the 9.7 inch iPad is a likely price cut. Interestingly, the once mighty iPad is having to ward off the most intense competition from none other than its own stable mate, the iPad Mini. Each iPad version has been a trendsetter, though the recently launched iPad Mini has gone on to be more of a consumer favorite and has eaten into its bigger cousin’s market share. So much so that the iPad Mini is likely to make up about 65 percent of Apple’s tablet shipment during the first half of 2013. However, the launch of the new iPad 5 is expected to balance things out when it’s launched.
Meanwhile, in another related development, images supposed to be that of the next gen iPad Mini real shell have appeared online. The shell looks a lot like the same on the current gen iPad Mini, though maybe a tad thicker. This again might be the indication of the tablet incorporating retina display for its future iteration.
Hewlett Packard is back in the tablet race and is piggybacking Android this time for a reported high end tablet offering. As per the latest rumors on this, HP is said to be working on a tablet that will be built around the new upcoming Tegra 4 chip. The chip is touted among the fastest currently available and was launched at this year’s CES event. It boasts of 72 custom graphics processing units, though lacks integrated support for 4G LTE. However, there isn’t much else on this that is available right now and HP isn’t confirming the leaks that have made it online.
HP had started out its tablet ambitions with the TouchPad, which, for a change, was based on the now defunct WebOS platform. What followed next was HP’s decision to quit from the tablet business (it had even considered hiving off its entire mainstream computer hardware business) and sold off remaining units of the TouchPad which sparked a buying frenzy that is now part of tablet folklore. The company then stated that its next tablet venture will almost entirely be Windows based. However, it seems there is a change of heart somewhere in between and HP might again be treading up the tricky road in tablet space. This since the Android tablet space is more abuzz in the lower end characterized with budget priced devices. In this respect, it will crucial the way HP prices the tablet.
HP’s current (hybrid) tablet offerings include the ElitePad 900 and the Envy x2, both being Windows 8 based. HP had earlier ruled out developing a tablet based on Windows RT.